A crystal prism breaks white light into its basic components.

Colors are About Reflection

The colors you see are reflected from objects. Something like a green plant actually absorbs most of the colors in white light and reflects the green. It's the green (the reflected) color that you see. A red rose reflects red and absorbs the other colors. The colors your eye can see are from a narrow band of something called the electromagnetic spectrum (EM Spectrum). You will hear scientists talk about Roy G. Biv. That's not some guy who discovered light, those are actually all of the colors of visible light you can see. ROY-G-BIV stands for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

Samples of red shapes and objects.


Reds are the color of love. Aaaah. They are more than that. There are a few things that always go with red. You might have red apples or a red heart on Valentines Day. Reds are also used by many living creatures to give a warning. "I'm red! Don't eat me because I'm poisonous."

Samples of orange shapes and objects.


Orange. The color of... Ummmm... Oranges! You might also see this color on workers on the side of the highway. Oranges are also another one of nature's warning colors like red.

Samples of yellow shapes and objects.


A nice bright yellow. The biggest object in our Solar System, the Sun, is a big yellow star. You may see loads of flowers that are yellow. Those yellow flowers attract a lot of insects. It's like a "Hey, come and look at me!" color.

Samples of green shapes and objects.


Green grass. Green plants. Green moss. They are all green because of the chlorophyll inside of plants. That chlorophyll lets them create sugars for themselves and oxygen for the rest of us. Green is not a good color if you are a flower. The insects can't see you when you are next to the plants. You might find green animals that need to hide in plants. It's a lot harder to see them in all of the green leaves. It's called camouflage.

Samples of blue shapes and objects.

Blues and Indigos

Blue sky. Blue oceans (that reflect the color of the sky). Blue swimming pools (painted that way). Indigo jeans (using indigo dye). These are all types of blues. Many consider it to be a very calming color.

Samples of violet shapes and objects.


The deepest of the blues are the violets. There are a lot of flowers that are violet and purple (violets for example). You'll also find violets and purples used in a lot of clothing. A dye was created long ago that let material be dyed very deep purples. Very luxurious.

Other Colors

You might be thinking, "Wait a second. I can see more than that. What about metallic colors, colors like magenta, or fluorescents?" You're right. There are more than just the basic colors. But everything you see is a combination of those. Think about Fluorescent Yellow. It's still yellow, it's just really bright to your eyes... Just add a little reflectivity. The same idea works for metals. They are just combinations of the basic color spectrum.

Related Activities

Symbol and Color Activity Learning Colors Memory Challenge
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Symbol and Color Activity Identifying Colors Card Quiz
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